Eliza O’Neal is only seven years old, but a terminal illness has rendered her mind like that of an elderly dementia patient. Despite her prognosis, Eliza has had a truly wonderful childhood thanks to her family and father, Glenn O’Neill.
Glenn took the entire troupe to Disney World and experienced something there that restored his faith in the little things that make life beautiful. There’s a reason they call it ‘The place where dreams come true‘. Check out his post, transcribed in full, below. Oh… and grab the tissues.
My 7 year old daughter Eliza has a terminal disease called Sanfiippo Syndrome (Cure Sanfilippo Foundation), which unfortunately is like a “Childhood Alzheimer’s”, which causes significant dementia, usually by age 5.
It was our second day at Walt Disney World and we were visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios! It had been a good, but tiring day up to that point, and we decided to take a break before moving onto the next ride.
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We rested in an area where the character Doc McStuffins was greeting people in a line…a long line. Since I knew my daughter liked Doc, I figured we could stop where she could at least see her way through the people.
We were in Disney visiting our friends who also have a daughter Keira (also age 7), with the same disease. The girls were taking a break in their special chairs. As we parents were talking, the next thing we know, the Doc McStuffins character is right in front of Eliza and holding her hand.
Eliza’s look of wonderment was something I won’t forget, and Doc did the same with Keira, who didn’t want to let go of Doc’s hand. Doc spent a good several minutes with both children.
Then we see the character Jake from the Neverland Pirates, come over and do the same, leaving the area where people were waiting in line, to meet the girls.
At first I couldn’t figure out why and how these characters even knew we were there in the sea of people, but then I saw the man…the Disney employee…who had made sure this happened [see photos].
We never asked him or acted like we wanted to be in line. He did this, on his own, just seeing these two girls in their chairs, and he knew what it would mean to them…and to us.
I remember naturally glancing over the long line of people waiting, who now would have to wait longer, and feeling a bit guilty and worried about the looks. But do you know what I saw…I saw only smiles, from the parents and from the kids…and some parents whispering to their children, probably explaining ‘these girls need to see the Doc right now…before we do.’
I don’t think anyone noticed, but I had to drop my head and hide and hold back the tears coming. The emotions were taking over, for the first and only time during our trip. I thanked this kind and compassionate man, but didn’t get his name.
The employee in question was quickly identified as Roberto Sierra. Facebook users who knew the man chimed on on the viral Facebook post to sing his praise. It was no surprise to any of them that Roberto was at the center of this random act of kindness.
Naysayers may proclaim that Roberto was just doing his job, but a kind and considerate heart is all that we can see. If only we all could make the effort to serve instead of seek recognition. What a wonderful world it would be, and can become!
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